Category: Archive

Busy Euro qualifier week looms

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Though the recent latest Balkan flare-up has postponed Ireland’s trip to Yugoslavia on Saturday, 43 other matches are lined up across Europe over the next seven days, in the busiest week of qualifying action for the 2000 continental soccer championship in Holland and Belgium.

In addition to Ireland postponing its match, England has canceled a London friendly with the Yugoslavs scheduled for Nov. 18. Britain and Spain have also advised their nationals to leave Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia has once again incurred the UN’s wrath for the Serbian military crackdown in the rebellious province of Kosovo that has left more than 800 ethnic Albanians dead, and NATO threatening reprisals unless the crackdown ends. Yugoslavia was banned from international soccer from 1992 to 1996 for its actions during the breakup of its socialist federation.

Meanwhile, the lead in Group 8 seems likely to change with first-place Macedonia involved in a tough local derby of sorts against another former Yugoslav republic, Croatia, in Zagreb next Wednesday. The Croats will warm up for that match with a trip to Valetta this Saturday to meet the group’s weakest side, Malta.

Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic has called recalled World Cup ’98 top scorer Davor Suker, who missed the 2-0 defeat by Ireland due to injury, and Goran Vlaovic, for the two Euro 2000 fixtures. However, Italian-based striker Alen Boksic is still out injured.

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Malta, meanwhile, will end what could be a nightmarish weekend with a jaunt to Lansdowne Road on Wednesday, in what will be the Republic’s last Euro qualifier this year.

North favored

Lawrie McMenemy’s has a shot at bagging his first win as manager of Northern Ireland when Finland visit Windsor Park for a Group 3 tussle this weekend. The North are at the bottom of the group after losing 3-0 to Turkey last month.

Group leaders after the opening round of matches, the Turks entertain a German team rebuilding under new coach Erich Ribbeck — who recently replaced Berti Vogts — on Saturday, and Finland on Wednesday.

Beckham back

England manager Glenn Hoddle has included controversial midfielder David Beckham in his squad for the two Group 5 games against Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday, and away to Luxembourg on Wednesday. However, combative skipper Paul Ince is out for both engagements after being red-carded in England’s 2-1 loss to Sweden in their opening qualifier last month.

Beckham will only be eligible to play in Luxembourg, when the two-match ban for his dismissal against Argentina in the France ’98 second round ends.

Poland, 3-0 winners over Bulgaria last month, will almost certainly stretch their lead in Group 5 when they host Luxembourg at the weekend, while second-place Sweden play in Bulgaria next Wednesday.


The rest of the Euro 2000 fixtures for Saturday and Wednesday are:

Saturday — Denmark vs. Wales, Italy vs. Switzerland (Group 1); Slovenia vs. Norway, Albania vs. Greece, Latvia vs. Georgia (Gp 2); Armenia vs. Iceland, Andorra vs. Ukraine, Russia vs. France (Gp 4); Cyprus vs. Austria, San Marino vs. Isr’l (Gp 6); Azerbaijan vs. Hungary, Portugal vs. Romania, Liechtenstein vs. Slovakia (Gp 7); Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Czech Republic, Lithuania vs. Faroe Islands and Scotland vs. Estonia (Gp 9).

Wednesday’s schedule is: Wales vs. Belarus, Switzerland vs. Denmark (Gp 1); Greece vs. Georgia, Norway vs. Albania, Slovenia vs. Latvia (Gp 2); Moldova vs. Germany (Gp 3); France vs. Andorra, Iceland vs. Russia, Ukraine vs. Armenia (Gp 4); Isr’l vs. Spain, San Marino vs. Austria (Gp 6); Hungary vs. Romania, Liechtenstein vs. Azerbaijan, Slovakia vs. Portugal (Gp 7); Lithuania vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Scotland vs. Faroe Islands and Czech Republic vs. Estonia (Gp 9).

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